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Government makes case to start sugar crop on time, negotiate commercial agreement

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Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2021. 11:13 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Approximately 20 days from the projected start of the sugar cane season, the Government of Belize has lent its considerable voice to the argument between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and Belize Sugar Industry Limited (BSI/ASR) over the Commercial Agreement due to expire in January and without which the latter has made clear that it will not accept deliveries from affiliates of the former.

Cabinet has resolved that while it is unlikely that such an agreement can be reached before the crop starts, the crop must start nonetheless, and that “in the interim, Cabinet believes that the current Commercial Agreement should be extended by the parties for not more than six months.”

“Cabinet views it as critical that the 2021-2022 sugar cane harvest begins in December 2021 as is programmed regardless of whether or not a new agreement on the Commercial Cane Purchase Agreement is reached between the BSCFA and BSI/ASR,” an official statement issued this morning reiterated.

BSI/ASR has said that the initial proposals by BSCFA amount to an unsustainable reorganization of profits and points to its efforts to “grow the pie” of production and establish the industry on a sustainable and environmentally friendly footing.

Cabinet noted that the 2021-2022 cane production estimate is 1,355,324 metric tons of sugar cane, an increase of 157,324 metric tons over last year’s production, which is near the milling capacity of the Tower Hill Sugar Factory.

The Executive supports and expects that dialogue and negotiations will continue in good faith during the grinding season and is hopeful that a fair and balanced agreement will be reached before the end of June 2022. It also recognizes that the sugar industry is the main socio-economic livelihood of northern Belize, is a strong foreign exchange earner, and contributes to 15 percent of direct and indirect employment.

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